Friday, 2 July 2010
A Big, Beautiful Almond & Raspberry Layer Cake
There are no 2 ways about it, I love making cakes. Don't get me wrong, I like all my other cooking as well and the Daring Cooks challenge for the month that I completed last night was wonderful, but somehow they don't stand up to a rich, almondy, 3 layer, jam filled, ganache covered bohemoth of a cake. The problem is that there are only 2 of us in the house and if I had to make one of these beauties every week, well we'd very quickly have to buy larger jean sizes. As my waistline is something that I run at least 30kms a week to try and keep under control, I cannot take that risk. So when the opportunity arises that I can make a cake for someone else, and only have one lovely piece and then offload the rest, I tend to jump at it.
This is yet another gem from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Sky High. A cake book which she raves about and one I am dying to invest in. Maybe I shall treat myself (and everyone else who gets to eat my cakey creations) next month.
Now this recipe calls for some American thing called 'almond paste' which after my google-research turned out to be a marzipan-type thing. So as we do not have this conveniently in a tube/tub/bag or however it is packaged in the US of A, I made up a simple marzipan and used that instead (pics above), and I cannot fault it as the cake turned out beautifully.
It may look intimidating but this cake really is not hard work at all and it does not take long to make, and the ooohs and aaaahs of appreciation that you get will be well worth the effort. Assuming that your taste-audience like almond that is. Personally the rich almond flacour in this cake, punctuated by the tang of the raspberry jam is just a perfect match. However, I would not use the chocolate ganache icing again as it did not give credit to the cake itself I don't think, I would definitely investigate a more complimentary icing if you are going to give this a go.
As far as the cake constuction goes, I trimmed the tops of my 3 cakes as they had risen a little more round the enges than in the middle and it is important when building a cake up that the building blocks are as flat as possible. I did it with a long bread knife by eye as I am not going to crack out the spirit level just for a ckae but if you want to use a spirit level or other exact-measuring device, please do go ahead. The consistency of the cakes is fairly firm so they co-operate with the cutting and stacking process quite well and don't threaten to break unless you really manhandle them. As for the jam filling, I warmed up my jar of seedless raspberry jam in the microwave for 20 seconds or so just to make it easier to spread as its room-temperature consistency was a very stiff jammy, and not condusive to crumbless spreading (on cake that is, I'm sure on toast it would have been perfectly fine).
225g/8oz icing sugar
225g/8oz caster sugar
450g/1lb ground almonds
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 lemon, juice only
1.Sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and add the caster sugar. Toss in the almonds and stir.
2.Add the lemon juice. Now stir in the eggs, bit by bit to make a firm, stiff dough.
3.Roll into a ball and knead lightly. Place into a plastic bag until you need it.
Almond Rasberry Layer Cake
Makes a 9-inch triple layer cake that serves 16 to 20 people
4 1/2 cups cake flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup prepared almond paste (7 ounces)
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon almond extract
10 egg whites
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup simple syrup (to keep cake moist)(optional - I found I didn't need it as the cake was beautifully moist already)
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
Frosting ideas: Swiss Buttercream (with or without two teaspoons of almond extract for flavoring), Cream Cheese Frosting or Whipped Bittersweet Frosting (recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch (but 9-inch will work just fine) round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3. Place the almond paste and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Begin to cream the mixture on low speed to break up the almond paste, then increase the speed to medium for about 2 minutes, or until the paste is broken into fine particles.
4. Add the butter and almond extract and beat it well, then the egg whites, two or three at a time, beating just long enough to incoperate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to make sure it is evenly mixed.
5. Dust about a third of the dry ingredients over the batter and fold in with a large rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in about half the milk. Fold in half the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Finally, fold in the last of the dry ingredients just until no streaks of white remain. Use a light hand and do not overmix. Divide the batter among the three prepared cake pans.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out on to wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let them cool completely, about one hour.
7. Assemble the cake: Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand or serving plate. Slide small strips of waxed paper under the edges to protect the plate from any messiness accumulated while decorating. Brush first layer with simple syrup, if using. Spread 1/2 cup of the raspberry preserves over the cake, leaving a 1/4 inch margin around the edges. Repeat with the second layer, brushing syrup if using and using remaining preserves. Add the third layer and brush with syrup if using.
8. Spread a thin layer frosting of your choice over the top and sides of the cake. Let frosting set in the fridge for about 20 to 30 minutes (this is your crumb coat) then spread a thicker, decorative coat over the base coat. If you have any frosting remaining, pipe a decoration of your choice.
Whipped Bittersweet Frosting
Makes about 3 cups, or enough to coat a three layer 8- or 9-inch cake. You’ll want 1 1/2 this amount if you’re using it for filling as well.
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Melt the chocolate with the cream in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk to blend well. Remove from heat and let stand, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. (No doubt, exactly what you want to think about when making chocolate frosting).
2. Place the butter in a large mixer bowl and with an electric mixer on medium speed, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate cream and whip until lighter in color and somewhat stiff, about three minutes. Do not whip too long or the frosting may begin to separate.